Entries in europe (56)
by General Fabb
France-based 3D print service Sculpteo has partnered with the French post office, La Poste, to provide 3D print services at three locations in the Paris area.
La Poste is interested in exploring new ways to revive interest in using postal services - and 3D printing could be one of those ways if the experiment works.
Customers will be able to select or upload models using workstations at the La Poste offices to trigger a print. It appears that there will not be 3D printers at these offices, but instead Sculpteo will produce items at their usual facility and then forward them for pick up at the post offices.
Will this help La Poste? We're not sure, but certainly visitors to these offices will no doubt gain an understanding of 3D printing they never had before.
We managed to get a first hand look at a very unique 3D printer, BeeTheFirst from Portugal-based BeeVeryCreative.
While the device has mechanical characteristics similar to most 3D printers of its category, it has a very unique design that includes a handle for easy portage.
BeeTheFirst is a 20 pound unit that prints PLA only with very low noise levels.
One curious aspect of the printer is the filament spools. They are a custom size due to the design of the device. While you probably could spool generic filament on these rather small spools, you will likely end up buying from BeeVeryCreative for fit.
Currently it's on sale in the EU for €1805 (USD$2450) through online sales. The company is working on developing physical retail sales and is seeking UL compliance to permit sales in the USA.
Via BeeVeryCreative (Portuguese)
We managed to check out a 3D printer from Finland: the Mini Factory and found it has several interesting features that differentiate it from other 3D printers in its class.
Like many inexpensive 3D printers, the miniFactory uses plastic filament. A problem sometimes observed is that filaments break or bend during printing. The miniFactory significantly reduces this issue by redesigning the mechanical movements occurring during printing.
The miniFactory's extruders remain stationary during printing. Instead, the print bed moves left-right, forward-backward and up-down. At all times the print head remains in place - and thus the filament has a consistent path to the extruder that introduces no additional stress.
Aside from the mechanics, the miniFactory includes no belts - all movements are powered by direct drive.
The single head machine has been available since late September at a cost of £1000 (USD$1600), with a dual head version coming soon. miniFactory is sold in nine countries in Europe, focusing on the education market, but expansion through partners is being pursued.
We examined the Italian KentStrapper Volta 3D printer and found a very solid design. The Volta uses a laser-cut wood frame, unlike other models that have shifted to metal frames, but does use linear bearings to provide smooth mechanical movements.
The Volta offers a relatively large build area, as you can see in the image above, some 260 x 280 x 190mm. In this volume you can print items with layers as small as 0.1mm. However, without a heated bed you'll have to use an adhesive spray for printing ABS.
Priced at €1440 (USD$1960), you can also add a second extruder for €500 (USD$680), creating a two-extruder Volta for €1940 (USD$2630). So far they've sold around 200 units.
This week we're traveling to Frankfurt, Germany to take in this year’s EuroMold trade show. If you don't know, EuroMold is the world’s largest event focused on mold-making and prototyping equipment - and that means 3D printers, too.
What do we expect to see? There will be displays from all the large commercial 3D printer manufacturers! including Stratasys, 3D Systems, VoxelJet, EOS and many others. Software providers will demonstrate their 3D modeling tools. There will no doubt be many types of 3D scanners on display, and certainly several personal-level 3D printers, too.
We will be visiting all the manufacturers, speaking to company representatives and taking far too many pictures of equipment. And perhaps a bit of equipment shopping.
Will you be attending EuroMold? Have something to show us? If so, let us know!
There's an explosion of extrusion-based personal 3D printers occurring now, with new entries emerging from all corners. One of them is the WitBox by Spanish company BQ.
Unlike many new entrants, the WitBox comes from an already established company. BQ "is a Spanish company dedicated to the multimedia devices and 3D printers sale." According to their spokesperson, they have been around for over seven years and now boast 400 employees. BQ has formed a new division dedicated to producing and marketing personal 3D printers.
Their first product is the WitBox, which has characteristics similar to most extrusion 3D printers. We noted a several interesting features:
- The WitBox has a very attractive case, because it "has to look like a printer and not be scary"
- The print volume is completely enclosed. It's not heated, but the enclosure will capture some heat from the extruder and improve print quality
- The door to the build chamber has a keyed lock. The purpose of the lock is for childproofing; lock it up during a print to avoid accidents with children. It also works on careless adults, too
- The device is very quiet when operating
- If you happen to have more than one WitBox, you can stack them several high to create a home "factory"
- The print volume's horizontal size is equal to A4 paper size
- The WitBox can print layers as small as 50 microns (0.05mm)
The company intends on marketing PLA plastic filament for use in the machine - or other machines, too. However, their plan is to provide the high-quality filament at a price much lower than competitors. The idea, we presume, is to subsidize filament sales with printer revenue, and drive more printer revenue because it's cheaper to print with their PLA.
The machine is assembled in Spain and currently sold only in Spain, but the company is seeking distributors in additional locations, including the UK, Russia and the USA. The WitBox is priced at €1,600 (USD$2,150).
It seems we're in the UK often lately - and the trend continues this week as we visit the 3D Printshow.
While we're in the UK capital it's possible we may be able to check out some interesting 3D printing projects. If you happen to have something you'd like us to see, drop us a line and we will try to see what you're doing.
But we can't reply right now as we're on a very long airplane voyage.
For those of you located in or near London, there's an easy way to get introduced to the magic technology of 3D printing. Simply attend the 3D Printshow taking place from November 7th through the 9th.
The event takes place at the Business Design Centre in Islington. There will be exhibits, talks and much more.
We're going. Aren't you?
Via 3D Printshow
It doesn't really speak Spanish, but it was made in Spain by the folks at Marcha Technology and distributed by Ultra-Lab of Madrid. The WITbox is a plastic extrusion personal 3D printer capable of printing ABS, PLA, NYLON or PVA 1.75mm plastic filament.
The WITbox is built robustly with a steel frame and optionally includes a heated bed for more reliable ABS printing. Resolutions can be as fine as 0.1mm, but the typical machine layer height is apparently 0.2mm.
Three interesting features we noted were:
- A transparent "Safety Door"
- The ability to stack the machines up to three high
- A European Community Certificate CE, indicating the WITbox meets the requirements of the applicable EC directives
- Two years warranty (!) and one year of technical support
Available in one or two-extruder versions (€2040 and €2290, respectively), you are able to easily add a second extruder yourself should you want to expand your single-extruder version.
Available in negro, blanco o amarillo.
Via Ultra-Lab (en español, of course)
First was MakerBot's single retail store experiment in downtown NYC, then 3D Systems struck a deal with Staples to offer the Cube 3D printer in all Staples stores. Now we see another retail example: UK electronics retailer Maplin now carries a 3D printer kit, the Velleman K8200.
We'll look at the Velleman another day, but for now it's most interesting to see the rapid spread of 3D printing to more retail environments. With each deal, 3D printing becomes increasingly accessible to more people. Between Staples and Maplins there are thousands of stores and tens of millions of people who, in theory, could simply walk into a neighborhood shop and pick up a 3D printer at the low price of £699.99 (USD$1046).
One catch with Maplin's offering: the K8200 is a kit. Assembling a complex 3D printer is a task well beyond most of the general public, but perhaps Maplin knows something we don't. Regardless of the difficulty, Maplin seems to be sold out at this time.
Observation: in Maplin's online listing for the K8200 there is a tab for "Related Items". Within it you'll see a couple of spools of filament, very appropriate. But you'll also see a couple of All-In-One 2D paper printers.
Retail hasn't quite caught up to 3D printing yet.